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Do you struggle to get your kids to eat vegetables? I sure do! it is a battle almost every night to get them to eat their peas or green beans or tomatoes – or whatever veggie I’m serving. The kids drive me crazy – one day my son will eat an entire bell pepper and then the next night he’ll look me straight in the eye and I say “I don’t like peppers”. What’s a mom to do??
Over the years my strategies have changed but here are a few tried and true tips that help me get my kids to eat their vegetables
Serve Vegetables with Lunch
When the kids ate lunch at home this was really easy. At lunchtime I would serve them each a plate of vegetables – baby carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and bell peppers – BEFORE I let them eat anything else. There was no discussion. Every day without exception this was the first course for lunch. They ate it unquestioningly for years and never complained. I feel like they were more inclined to eat vegetables at lunch then at dinnertime when they were tired. Once they started eating lunch at school it became a bit more challenging but I do pack one serving of veggies in their lunch – cucumber slices for my daughter and tomatoes for the boys. They tell me they eat them and for now I’ll choose to believe them.
Hide Veggies in Safe Foods
Initially I was opposed to this idea because I wanted my kids to eat vegetables because it is the right thing to do. I have since gotten over this. To this day my kids do not know that their favorite meatballs have chopped mushrooms hidden in them, moms famous macaroni and cheese is so delicious because it contains butternut squash puree, there is cauliflower hiding in the mashed potatoes and those homemade tater tots are actually spaghetti squash. Let’s not forget their beloved “green” smoothies which are jam packed with spinach! The trick to making this work is to not let them see you prepping the food. I sometimes try other recipes from The Sneaky Chef but these are my standard tricks!
Veggies as an Appetizer
Every night when I am cooking dinner the first thing I do is prep a veggie tray. I put cucumber slices, tomatoes, peppers and carrots on a tray with some ranch dip and just leave it out on the counter. I don’t tell the kids to eat it. I just leave it there. They come over to ask me questions and instinctively grab a veggie and eat it. If they are really hungry they might sit down and eat a whole bunch. Even if they just graze a little it’s a portion of vegetable they otherwise wouldn’t have eaten. It has also stopped the begging for multiple afternoon snacks – because if they complain that they are hungry all I have to do is point at the veggie tray. It’s good for me too – because I also nibble on the veggies – and we all need more vegetables in our lives!
The Veggie List
The Veggie list has revolutionized dinner at our house. Every night, no matter what vegetable I served I heard complaints. No one likes peas on Tuesdays or corn on Fridays. I got so fed up one night that I grabbed a pen and had each child list out ten vegetables that they will eat. I typed up the list, printed it and posted it inside my kitchen cabinet. The deal that we have is that if a vegetable is on their list they are required to eat it for dinner. However, if it is not on their list I will let them have an alternate vegetable from their list that night. There is no arguing – when there is a complaint about vegetables we check the list together and if it is on their list – they must eat it. So far this has worked well. My kids are very concrete and are “rule followers” so they are inclined to “listen” to the list.
I have created a free printable Veggie List for my subscribers. Join Lilacs and Lost Socks and have access to this and any upcoming printables.
I’m always trying to think of new and creative ways to get my kids to eat their veggies so if you have any tips please share them in the comments.